As controversy continues about Coronavirus, there are some facts that I find indisputable.
First, the virus is spreading rapidly in some areas of the country, and is more stable in other areas, including Louisiana. But it’s not going away until an effective vaccine is available.
Second, face masks help prevent the spread of the disease and they help protect the wearer of the mask. I have not only heard this from my trusted family physician, but also from a noted Northshore cardiologist, and from national medical experts. Other than a vaccine itself, the medical experts that I trust believe face masks are the single most effective method of protecting ourselves from contracting Coronavirus. Of course they also recommend frequent handwashing and not touching the face, but masks are at the top of the list.
I accept that my first fact is true, that the virus isn’t going away anytime soon. I accept my second fact, that face masks are effective. Which leads me to the question: Why are so many people refusing to wear masks in public?
Answers I’ve heard:
1. It’s easy to forget to put the mask on when entering a store or some other public place.
2. The masks are an inconvenient nuisance.
3. Doubts about the effectiveness of the mask.
4. Doubts about whether Coronavirus is truly a serious problem, or simply overhyped hysteria.
5. Being forced to wear a mask is a violation of Constitutional rights.
I am sure there are many more answers to my question. All of us will never totally agree on anything related to Coronavirus.
It’s interesting to compare some of the current attitudes on face masks with the attitudes toward seatbelts back when they were first widely offered in vehicles. Many people didn’t want to buckle up. Like face masks today, seatbelts back then were inconvenient, uncomfortable, and easy to forget. There were questions about their effectiveness. There were questions about whether Constitutional rights were being violated by mandating seatbelt usage.
For years after seatbelts were first offered in vehicles, many people didn’t use them. It’s really only been in the past 20-to-30 years that seatbelt usage became widespread. Some states passed seatbelt laws but they were enforced somewhat casually. It wasn’t until the federal government connected seatbelt usage to federal highway matching funds that most states got serious about forcing people to buckle up.
Questions remain even today about both the constitutionality and the effectiveness of seatbelts. Again, I defer to the experts: 1. Courts have ruled that driving is a privilege, not a constitutional right. 2. State troopers in Louisiana will quickly tell you how effective seatbelts are, because most of them have had the terrible duty of working an accident where a needless death occurred because someone wasn’t buckled up.
Today, almost 90% of all American drivers and passengers use seatbelts. It took years, but most of us finally got the message. With Coronavirus, unfortunately, we don’t have years. We need to beat it back as soon as possible. Medical experts believe face masks can help us achieve this.